“How can I tell if they’re really working?” Too often, this question nags at managers of remote workers. It indicates a deeper problem: lack of trust at the core of the working relationship. This dysfunction might crop up even when both parties are in the same space, but without care it can really blossom when employees are offsite. When it does, fruitful work takes a hit. In this article, we’ll share six expert tips for working remotely and building trust with your manager, plus a bonus from us.
In a study conducted by researcher Paul Zak and reported in Harvard Business Review, employees who worked for companies that placed a high priority on trust reported 106 percent more energy and 76 percent better engagement at work than respondents who worked for companies that did not value or promote trust.
While establishing a trust culture is the responsibility of management, remote employees can do their part by following these best practices and tips for working remotely.
6 best practices and tips for working remotely and building trust
Communicate more. “When you don’t see your boss face-to-face all the time, the room for miscommunication, misinterpretation, and misalignment expand,” writes Claire Lew at Know Your Team. “You can’t read body language. You can’t go tap your boss on the shoulder to ask a question.” Successful remote workers communicate verbally even more to make sure they understand and are understood. Keep messages simple, clear, and to the point, and ask questions when needed. Never assume.
Learn your manager’s working style. How do they like to be contacted? How often? “When you know their working style, you can better calibrate from afar how to communicate with them, work with them, and deliver above and beyond what they expect,” says Lew. Lew suggests asking managers questions such as whether they are morning or evening persons, what they value most in a coworker, and when they absolutely do not want to be interrupted.
Be transparent. Ask for help when you need it and admit when you make a mistake, rather than letting your manager learn about it from someone else. Share your calendar, and share any information you have that will help others on the team do their jobs well.
Check in frequently. Remote workers often have the option of setting their own schedules, which may or may not be the same as coworkers. Informing team members when you are working, and therefore available, helps not only with trust but also efficient collaboration. Say a quick “Good morning” – if it’s morning — via chat when you get started. Let others on the team know what your hours generally are, and alert them when you’re going to be offline for longer than a few minutes or otherwise need to change your pattern.
Deliver on goals. Getting the work done is the best way to ensure trust. Along the way, an unsolicited, short note updating your progress can reassure your manager that you are focused and on task. Don’t wait for them to ask for a report. Your initiative will demonstrate that you are aware that your manager is juggling lots of responsibilities and that you want to facilitate them doing their job well.
Get to know each other. If you are local, take whatever opportunities you can to meet in person: the quarterly retreat, the holiday party, the staff bowling fundraiser. Invite your boss out for lunch. If that’s not possible, at least video chat periodically. Finding common interests and sharing our human side helps to build trusting relationships with coworkers and managers.
Our bonus tip for working remotely: Evaluate potential employers
Before taking a new job, look at how the organization prioritizes trust in their corporate values and nurtures it in their culture. Formulate interview questions of your own to learn how much autonomy staff are given as they work toward goals and how responsibility is distributed. Seek an employer who will treat you as the professional you are.
Over our decades of recruiting experience, we have seen the success that is possible when organizations that respect their teams as trusted collaborators are paired with talented individuals whose work validates the responsibility they are entrusted with, on or off site.
Do you have experience working remotely?
Or managing remote teams? If that’s the type of role you seek, contact Bradsby Group today to see if your skills and experience align with the needs of our clients.